When I was in Bangalore few weeks back, I happened to look at the Bangalore Times during breakfast because my not-at-all-bossy brother ‘borrowed’ the main page from me. In the hostel, I get a different paper [with the same surnameJ]. so I usually miss all the masala that comes with the ‘manja (yellow) patrams’ [not literally manja, if that was the case ET would qualify to be one]. On the front page there were the results of a ‘poll’ on the best love story ever in the history of mankind. The story of Emperor Shah Jahan’s love for his wife Mumtaz Mahal seemed to be the page 3 favourite among few classics like Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre and Pride and Prejudice. There were pictures of some people I didn’t recognize. They were fashion designers, names which I don’t recollect because I am not page 3 enough. They vouched that the Taj Mahal was the ultimate symbol of love and that the love story of this Mughal couple was the most touching ever. They said it is ‘undoubtedly’ the most beautiful love story.

what is this ‘love story’ they are talking about?…that the emperor built a lovely monument in memory of his wife whom he apparently loved a lot, that he built a beautiful tomb for his wife heavily studded with priceless stones; that he caused one of the finest works of architecture that stands on the face of earth as a symbol of man’s pride and his desire to leave a mark and be remembered; that he was ill-treated by his own son who threw him in a prison from where he used to supposedly admire the beauty of the Taj Mahal and that later when he died he was laid beside his wife beneath an equally decorated tomb by his cruel son who had no love left for him while he was alive. Then ofcourse there are the hazaar legends of the cruelty meted out to the craftsmen who helped raise the beautiful structure whose thumps were sliced off as an honor for making something so beautiful… There are enough legends, myths, facts and controversies to make the Taj a celebrated monument. But what is the love story?  Well, on the page 3, there are no questions to be asked.  Or may be I don’t know the story ‘coz my history teachers skipped all the interesting parts in furtherance of their mission to make history as boring as one cannot imagine. [I was just trying to voice the popular attitude there; my history teachers were just awesome!J]

Few months back we found our mail accounts flooded with forwards asking us to cast our vote for retaining the Taj Mahal as one of the 7 wonders of the world. I wonder if the wonders of the world are chosen on the basis of the size of the tech-savvy population or on the basis of whether the structure actually deserves to be one. If the monument is under the threat of being ruined because of the indifference of the people, then does it still deserve to be a ‘wonder’ just because the same indifferent people sent some 1000 forwards around claiming that it still deserves to be a ‘wonder’ until it is totally destroyed and wiped out clean from the face of the earth? Not like it’s a big deal, how does it make any difference to an average Indian? But the page 3 was leading from the front in this campaign too.  It was a much celebrated page 3 issue and there was enough drama until it ended with bipasha basu’s face seen flashing all over the page announcing the big news to the proud page 3 Indian. 

 And The Taj still remains a wonder and a page 3 favourite…

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